The way calcium works in our bodies is that we have calcium circulating in our blood as well as stored in our bones. Blood calcium is very tightly self-regulated, but if calcium is low in the blood either due to low calcium in your diet or a deficiency caused by another illness, calcium is released from the bones. That’s why the majority of symptoms of calcium deficiency are related to soft or brittle bones (e.g., osteoporosis, poor dental health).
The signs of insufficient calcium aren’t typically apparent in immediate symptoms, but rather they present as some of the longer-term problems.
Signs of Calcium Deficiency
1. Frequent broken bones
2. Dental cavities
In general, these are caused by poor oral hygiene but lack of calcium can contribute, especially in the young and in pregnant women.
3. Rickets in children
Rickets is the softening and weakening of bones in children, usually because of an extreme and prolonged deficiency in vitamin D, which aids in calcium absorption.
4. Osteopenia or osteoporosis
Especially in the elderly.
5. High blood pressure
People who don’t get enough calcium are at higher risk for hypertension; calcium may help lower blood pressure slightly.
Consuming high-calcium, low-fat dairy products has been shown to aid in weight loss or the maintenance of a healthy weight.
7. Tingling and numbness in fingers
This can indicate a serious calcium imbalance that is often associated with other clinical problems such as hypoparathyroidism.
9. Muscle cramps
10. Abnormal cardiac rhythms
How to Prevent a Calcium Deficiency
The best way to boost your calcium intake is through food. It’s not just about how much calcium you’re getting but also how it's being absorbed into your body.
Good dietary sources of calcium include:
- Dairy products (e.g., milk, yogurt, kefir)
- Boned fish (e.g., sardines)
- Soy and tofu
- Dark green vegetables
In addition, there are certain foods that affect how we process and use calcium. Too much salt, alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine impede calcium absorption. Calcium utilization is improved by:
Found in grains, starchy vegetables, and fruits.
2. Vitamin D
Found in dairy products and soy milk. You can also get vitamin D in supplement form and from sunlight.
3. Vitamin K
Found in dark green leafy veggies, broccoli, asparagus.
Found in dark green leafy veggies, nuts, fatty fish, avocado, dark chocolate.
Found in high-protein foods, dairy, chocolate, whole grains.
While diet can play a large role in your calcium levels, there are other factors, including age, disease states, and medications, that can affect calcium absorption.
Eating a balanced diet of proteins, carbohydrates, and lots of veggies is always a good idea, but if you think you might have some of the symptoms of calcium deficiency, check it out with a doctor or medical professional.
Want to learn more? Start here:
- 11 Dairy-Free Sources Of Calcium
- Study Says Drinking Too Much Milk Is Bad For Your Bones
- 5 Ways To Get Calcium Without Drinking Milk
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